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Most of the people did not consider waste-sorting as their past-time hobby. Almost nobody really likes the idea of sticking their hands into the disposal bin, picking out rotten vegetable from a paper, open a stinking past-due meat from its plastic wrap, pouring out a week-long milk soda from its can.

Hey, even the idea of segregating our waste before throwing them into the disposal bin isn’t very pleasant for some people. Another time and energy spent to think which one is organic and which one is a non-organic waste, why should we be bothered with that?

Someone has been paid to do the job, isn’t it? Don’t we have a waste-sorting machine or something?

Waste-Sorting is an Urgent Matter to Do

Well, guess what. Someone did get paid to do the waste-sorting job. A machine which sole job is to segregate our daily waste is also existed—on and running. Yet, the workers and the machine can only do so much; the waste-sorting job will only be executed perfectly if everyone’s doing their part of the task.

And why it has to be done perfectly? Because the undesirable effects of our mixed wastes are still threatening us, leaching hazardous and toxic matters to our soil, producing dangerous gases in our landfills—endangering both our earth’s ozone and people who work around it. Also, decreasing the quality of our future recycled products.

It may look like an extra time to spare, but really, this basic concern will save a lot of things. One of the most important things that you will take part in saving is our environment.

Examples of food waste that should have been turned into compost. Photo credit: iStock
Examples of food waste that should have been turned into compost. Photo credit: iStock

Waste-Sorting 101: 5 Things to Remember

  • Each country has a fairly different waste-separation standard, it usually depends on the facilities and technologies that exist within the country. The questions you should ask would be: what kind of plastic can be recycled, what type of food should be separated from the other food, what is considered as hazardous waste, and many mores. Educate yourself about the waste regulation in your country. This post would be using the waste-sorting standard that is applicable in Indonesia.
  • There are 3 types of waste:
    • Organic waste: food, drink, meat, vegetable—any kind of matter that is easily degraded. Paper and wood, even if it comes from organic matters, aren’t considered as organic wastes because it took some time for those two to degrade in nature.
    • Non-organic waste: plastic, glass, paper, wood, metal, aluminum.
    • Hazardous & toxic waste: any kind of wastes that are considered a danger to the environment and living beings. B3 Wastes are regulated in Indonesia’s Law number 32 of 2009 on Environmental Protection and Management. Several things that considered as B3 wastes and should be separated from the rest of the wastes and be labeled as “B3” are: used battery, hairspray, pesticides, detergent, floor cleaner solution
  • The hardest waste to process is the mixed-material type of product. Here are some products that are considered non-recyclable (at the moment):
    • Milk carton or juice carton because it’s a paper layered with aluminum matter for better insulation—which hard to separate and so it’s not really recyclable.
    • Wet paper—the paper quality will decrease greatly once is exposed by water; this will also affect the quality of recycled products.
    • Styrofoam, because this type of plastic is highly combustible and could create some mess in the recycle site, so it’s better to separate it from the rest.
  • Clean your non-organics from your organic wastes. Dry out your juice plastic bottle before throwing it out into the disposal bin, empty out your snack container. Pay a little more attention to it, because a trapped organic waste could produce greenhouse gases/methane gases that if accumulated from some time and to some amount, also if exposed by a certain heat, could explode and harm people around it.
  • Spare some more time to separate the wastes down to the material types. Check out your non-organic rubbish. Pick out papers from plastics, glass from aluminum. Also check the plastic resin codes, which one is HDPE, which one is Styrofoam, put them on separated bins. One simple thing that you should remember is to separate plastic bottle (usually made from 1-PET) from its bottle cap (commonly made from 2-HDPE). This detailed separating method would really help the recycling process.

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